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Austrian, U.S. scientists discover "pain gene"

11-12-2010 13:45 BJT

VIENNA, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- A group of Austrian and U.S. scientists have identified a gene that could affect human susceptibility to pain, according to a study published in the latest issue of the Cell magazine.

Acute and chronic pain affects 20 percent of the adult people worldwide, causing enormous financial and emotional burden, relevant studies have shown. While it has become known that how strong people feel the pain has an inherited reason, very little is known about actual "pain genes" and how they work.

For a long time, an international research group consisting of scientists from the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology in Vienna, the Harvard Medical School and other collaborators have dedicated themselves to solving the mystery and finally found the gene.

The gene was uncovered while they conducted genetic screens in fruit flies. Of the 600 pain-related genes,the scientists zeroed in on those with mutations that appeared to be specific to pain. Finally, a gene called alpha 2 delta 3 was chosen for further study.

Studies of mice lacking alpha 2 delta 3 demonstrated that this gene controls sensitivity to noxious heat in mammals as well as flies.

Finally, they determined the gene's role in human pain sensitivity through the study of cases involving volunteers and patients.

Some scientists noted that the result of the research was a milestone in the field of pain study. It not only offers explanation to the works of pains in molecular level, but also in the long run would contribute to the development of new painkillers and more effective treatment for patients.

Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: Xinhua

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